Miss Universe South Africa Bryoni Govender has launched her countrywide advocacy campaign Her Way Out, ahead of her participation at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant which takes place in El Salvador on November 18.
Govender, who was named Miss Universe South Africa at the Miss South Africa 2023 finale, has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Johannesburg and was admitted as an attorney in July this year.
She has pledged to be an ambassador for women’s rights during the course of her reign with her campaign, Her Way Out, the main objective of which will be to take up the cudgels on behalf of women everywhere and help educate them on their legal rights.
The human rights organisation, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, reports that the femicide rate in South Africa is five times the global average and, according to a United Nations report, South Africa ranks first for rapes per capita.
To make her campaign as effective as possible, Govender has teamed up with the Social Impact team at global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (which has offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town) to focus on, amongst others, access to justice projects. Govender has also been appointed as an ambassador for the public benefit organisation Lawyers against Abuse (LvA), who work to ensure meaningful access to justice for victims of gender-based violence by providing legal services and psychosocial support, empowering communities and engaging national authorities.
Says Govender: “Together with these legal powerhouses, I will travel across South Africa, visiting courthouses and legal clinics, schools and rural community halls – anywhere that I can address women, and help them understand their basic rights and enable them to make informed choices about their lives. What stops women from being empowered and from taking charge of their own destiny? I believe that the answer is simple: Knowledge, or a lack thereof.”
Govender is determined that all women benefit from her campaign.
“I want to empower all women, no matter the issue, from those battling gender-based violence, pensioners, women with health problems, professional women, mothers, grandmothers and daughters.
“Women are facing severe issues which stops their progress in life, and the time is now to recognise that women’s rights are human rights, and that women can become whatever they want to be. In my legal career, I have witnessed the disparity which exists between men and women and the existing patriarchy enforcing power over women, which urgently requires our attention and voice for change,” she emphasises.
Govender says she has already seen the results of women being equipped with the details to make informed decisions.
“I have seen a woman glow when she heard she had tenancy rights and could not be evicted from her home of 43 years and I have comforted a domestic worker who wept on learning she had legal recourse to summary dismissal and was later awarded a six months’ salary.
“There are no small victories here. These are monumental life changing moments and I want to make sure that this happens more and more. I’m a lawyer, so how can I not use my background to empower women to help themselves? All women need to know is that the law is on their side. My mission and pledge is to teach a woman about her legal rights and let her know that information is Her Way Out.”
Says Brent Botha, CEO of Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa: “Empowering women through access to justice is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic necessity for a society to thrive. Collaborating with Bryoni on her incredibly important campaign aligns perfectly with our deep-rooted commitment to champion equality, safety and dignity for all. Together – Norton Rose Fulbright, Miss Universe South Africa Bryoni Govender and the Miss South Africa Organistion – we will make a meaningful difference in communities across the country.”
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with Sun International. SABC3 is the official broadcast partner.